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Local Veteran Song-and-Dance Man Bobby Smith Hits All the Right Notes in No Place to Go

Local Veteran Song-and-Dance Man Bobby Smith Hits All the Right Notes in No Place to Go

Signature Theatre
Jordan Wright
September 10, 2022
Special to The Zebra

Grant Langford (Sal) and Bobby Smith (George) (Photo by Christopher Mueller)

In an off-beat musical with shades of existentialism, veteran song-and-dance man Bobby Smith channels the travails of the working man. Woman would fit here too. In fact, anyone who has ever had a job they loved or hated. Smith, who has appeared in 28 Sig productions, is tailor made for the role. His singular ability to perform while drawing upon a wide range of emotions has always been his stock-in-trade. Winner of two Helen Hayes acting awards, Smith is a local crowd favorite and this is the perfect vehicle for him to prove why.

No Place to Go tells the story of George, married with children and living in a small company town in upstate New York. We like George because he is a thinking man with views on everything from politics to the Arts. George is an “information refiner”, a job that turns facts into information. We don’t need to understand what that means, we only need to recognize that George is content with his work and nestled in an office environment with co-workers he enjoys. What he’s not entirely comfortable with is his twelve-year employment as a part-timer – no benefits, no paid holidays and especially no job security. When the company decides to move its headquarters to “Mars” as George refers to the new location, he must decide whether to relocate. “I’m standing on the slenderest thread of magical thinking.”

As with many stories of companies down-sizing and moving to far-flung towns to slash salaries and force out employees, the thought of a drastic transition is bitter for him. “They’re the ones who are breaking up with me.” As he weighs the pros and cons of moving to a new town, he imagines several scenarios. Will his in-laws move in and help with expenses, should he self-incorporate (Oh, the benefits!)? At 50 years old, his options are limited and his blueprint for change looks bleak. We want to see George resolve his very relatable personal dilemma, maintain his dignity and come out on top.

Grant Langford (Sal), Bobby Smith (George), Tom Lagana (Jonah), and Ian Riggs (Duke) (Photo by Christopher Mueller)

Moments of dark humor and silly schticks – a forlorn sandwich awaits – temper the seriousness of the subject matter and Smith manages to swing from cheery to somber in a heartbeat. Three accomplished musicians accompany Smith and set the mood for each number. It’s a mix of philosophy and humor bracketed by 12 original songs featuring Blues, Cool Jazz, Merengue, Beatbox, Country Rock, Folk and Mambo. Some numbers are fast paced and Smith’s ability to move like Jagger is impressive. Others, especially the ballads, speak to George’s anxiety about change and longing and here’s where Smith’s talent at emotional candor and his chameleon-like style shine through.

Having seen this staged ten years ago in Manhattan’s Joe’s Pub, a cabaret club and live showcase venue in New York, Artistic Director Matthew Gardiner waited for the right moment and the right performer. It was worth the wait.

Written by Ethan Lipton with music composed by Ethan Lipton, Eben Levy, Ian M. Riggs and Vito Dieterle. Directed by Matthew Gardiner with Scenic Design by Paige Hathaway; Costume Design by Frederick P. Deeben; Sound Design by Matt Rowe; and Arrangements by Ian M. Riggs. Musicians: Tom Lagana as Jonah, Grant Langford as Sal and Ian M. Riggs as Duke.

Through October 9th at Signature Theatre, 4200 Campbell Avenue in Shirlington Village, Arlington, VA 22206. For tickets and information visit or call the box office at 703 820-9771.

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